Scientists Find LinkedIn Endorsements Fight Depression

9 01 2013


By Eric Jay Toll

©2013, Eric Jay Toll. All rights reserved.

Pushing that endorsement button for your friends, acquaintances, and the casually-known members of your LinkedIn network keeps you from depression. A new study by a group of scientists found that LinkedIn members who clicked dozens of endorsements were happier than those who had to manage unwanted endorsements.

The study found that those who spent time clicking skill endorsements – even when they barely knew their connection and had no knowledge of the individual’s skills or preferences – generated high levels of endorsephins in their brains.

“Endorsephins,” explained study lead Clarence Taragot, Ph.D., in a report issued by Columbian Pacifica University, San Rafael, Calif., “are a serotonin-related enzyme released when an individual is doing happy things on LinkedIn.”

The study followed several LinkedIn members who avoided unpleasant work spending most of the day clicking endorsement icons on the formerly professional-oriented networking site now undergoing a renaissance as a social media site for professionals. LinkedIn added endorsements as a knock-off to the Facebook-captured “like” button.

The recently-added feature confronts profile visitors with a challenging question, “Does (Profile name) know (skill)?” If the profile visitor clicks “yes,” the visitor’s avatar shows up on that profile page next to the endorsed skill. As more and more people endorse a LinkedIn member, endorsed skills are ranked by the number of people clicking the skill. The result creates a photo-collage bar graph on the profile page.

“We found that people would rather sit at the computer with a cup of coffee clicking endorsements than actually working,” reports Taragot. “The more the study participants clicked, the happier they became and the greater the effort they put into finding people or skills to endorse.”

Taragot’s study found a new substance in the brain, with levels rising as the endorser added more and more endorsements. “We gave participants profiles from people they didn’t even know, and found they would continue to endorse skills,” he explained. “Every five endorsements, we’d give them a fresh cup of hot coffee.”

The study determined that the chemistry of the participants and found this previously unknown enzyme responsible for the repetitive happiness. “We’re calling it an ‘endorsephin,’” Taragot said.

The study also followed LinkedIn members required to manually manage the rising tide of endorsements. The profile owners needed to individually hide and delete skills not applicable to their business objectives. The endorsement recipients—especially those who did not return endorsements—were found to be significantly more depressed than the endorsers.

“It’s obvious,” Tatgot’s study concludes, “people who endorse others are far happier than those who manage endorsements.”

A LinkedIn spokesperson would not confirm rumors that the social media site is adding badges for “top endorsers” and “most endorsed.” It’s reported that a new graph will appear ranking people by the number of skills endorsed to show which site members are tops in the world with a skill set.

No one at the company would respond to the rumor that a new Resume Timeline feature will be imposed on profiles beginning this summer. The timeline is anticipated as a blue horizontal line across the screen showing a point in a year denoting when the LinkedIn member changed jobs. At press time, there was no way to confirm that a “most job changes” badge and bar graph  to the LinkedIn features.